press release
Published: 03 July 2018

Can nature help fight natural disasters? Surrey given €645,000 to vet natural solutions to natural disasters

The Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) has been handed more than €645,000 to investigate whether it is possible to fight natural disasters, such as heatwaves, droughts and floods, with nature-based solutions.

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The Centre, which is based at the University of Surrey, is part of the Open-Air Laboratories for Nature Based Solutions to Manage Environmental Risks (OPERANDUM) project – made up of 26 organisations from 13 countries.

GCARE will use the funds to develop a database of natural solutions for river bank reinforcement, alternative vegetation for salt intrusion reductions, vegetative dunes to combat coastal erosion, reforestation to prevent landslides and the optimisation of pristine nature to work against natural disasters and climate change. The GCARE team will assess the effectiveness of these solutions in OPERANDUM’s Open-Air Laboratories across the European regions. 

The European Commission awarded €12,257,343 to the OPERANDUM consortium as part of its H2020 funding pot, with GCARE taking €645,690 of the grant. The project is due to last for 4 years.

Professor Prashant Kumar, Founder and Director of GCARE at the University of Surrey, said: “OPERANDUM is an excellent addition to our multidisciplinary research at GCARE and it provides a wonderful opportunity to discover whether we can limit the destructive force of some natural disasters using the tools that Mother Nature has given to us. We will be looking at the various innovative solutions already on the market, along with those in development, and we will be putting together a comprehensive database that can be used for future research or to aide decision makers who want to protect their communities with green solutions.”

Professor Silvana Di Sabatino, the OPERANDUM Coordinator from the University of Bologna, said: “OPERANDUM will implement an extraordinary work plan to assess scientific advantage of nature-based solutions in many European regions, China and Australia and formulate strategic, flexible yet practical responses to risks threatening world territories today as well as in the near future. I am delighted to lead an amazing team of worldwide experts and to work with GCARE, together with other European and non-European partners, to achieve breakthrough knowledge so urgent to save our planet.”

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